Chapter 1: The Seeds of Misery
I have heard about a very great rich man; Mulla Nasruddin went to see him. He wanted some donation for an orphan house that he was running. The rich man said, “Okay Nasruddin, I will give you something, but I have a condition and nobody has ever fulfilled it. Look into my eyes; one eye is false and another eye is real. If you can tell me exactly which eye is false and which is real, I will donate.”
Nasruddin looked into his eyes and said, “The left eye is real and the right eye is false.”
Amazed, the rich man said, “But how could you tell?”
He said, “Because in the left eye I can see a little compassion; it must be false.”
He saw a little compassion, just a glimmer, and it had to be false. A rich man cannot be rich if he is sensitive. In accumulating wealth, he goes on dying.
There are two ways to kill your body: one is the way of the masochist who tortures, another is the way of the rich man who accumulates wealth and rubbish. By and by, all the garbage that he accumulates becomes a barrier and he cannot move, he cannot see, he cannot hear, he cannot taste, he cannot smell. An austere life means an uncomplicated life, simple. It is not a cultivation of poverty, remember, because if you cultivate poverty through effort, then again the very cultivation will deaden you.
A simple life is a life of deep understanding, not of cultivation. It is not a practice to become poor. You can practice being poor, but through the practice your senses will harden. Practice of anything makes you hard; the softness is lost, the flexibility is lost. Then you are no longer flexible like a child. Then you become rigid like an old man. Lao Tzu says, “Rigidity is death, flexibility is life.” A simple life is not a cultivated, poor life. Don’t make poverty your goal and don’t try to cultivate it. Just understand that the more simple, unloaded your body and mind are, the more you penetrate into existence. Unburdened, you can come into direct contact with reality; burdened you cannot come. A rich man always has his bank balance in the way.
You see the Queen of England, Elizabeth? She cannot even shake hands without gloves on. She cannot even touch humanity without gloves. Even the human touch seems to be something impure, something ugly. A queen, a king, live encapsulated; it is not only a question of the hand. That is just a symbol to say that the Queen is entombed; she is no longer alive.